Monday, February 15, 2010

What's the Problem with Filters in Education

One of the only places student and teachers have a problem accessing the information they need is in schools. It used to be that the filters themselves were the main problem. Then CIPA came along and the problem was compounded by people using them poorly. Today, the filters have improved, but not the people. Filters are still being used poorly, if not worse. If filtering management and strategies had improved 1/10 as much as filters have improved, there would be no significant problem.

The ONLY thing CIPA requires in the way of technology is that you protect against accidental access to pornograhy, but too many schools use filters in lieu of supervision and education. The block everything from violence to nose picking. They are not protecting the children. They are trying to cover their collective asses and in the process are hindering education and access to the material that students and teachers need.

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posted by Art @ 10:58 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More on ChatRoulette

Hopefully, by now that you have all digested the initial announcement of the appearance of the new video chat stranger danger. Let's take a step or two back and put this in perspective.

Many times in the past, I've said that for the most part, kids are safe and want to be safe. Indeed, the research backs up my contention. However, the research also points out that there is a small part of the teen population that is at risk. These are the same kids who would be at risk even if the Internet didn't exist.

Beth Martin of Everest Middle School had a talk with her 16 year-old daughter and her friend. She said, "They didn't seem fazed by it. They told me that fact that I was shocked showed how naive I was about the web. Their response was that kids should be smart enough to know not to do that. Wow! That shocked me too. I think they are right about a lot of kids but I think kids on the fringe would try this."

The fact is that when sites like this come along, not only the kids on the fringe, but many mainstream kids will check it out. Curiosity is natural. For most, their curiosity will be quenched and it will quickly fade. However, it is still important to talk to kids about it, but do so by recognizing that most are safe. We have to begin to build a culture based on trust that treats kid as intelligent beings. We have to get them to help each other and held us help the few who might be in danger.

Let them know you realize that only a small group of individuals will be endangered by this kind of site and that THEY know who these kids are. They are the ones in the best position to help. Ask them to be alert to friends who might be hurt by using sites like this. Ask them to help their friends avoid trouble. Ask them to contact a trusted adult if they think someone might be endangering themselves.

It may or may not be effective, but it WILL start building a community of trust and perhaps it will result in at at least one tragedy being avoided. Let's treat our teens as online partners, not naive sheep.

Incidentally, when I went online to check this out. This is what the people on the other end saw. My web camera software does face movement tracking and allows me to overlay (wear) hats, wigs, masks, and distort my face numerous ways.

When kids saw this, one of three things happened.
1) They clicked off immediately
2) They called me a pedophile
3) They gave me a thumbs up.

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posted by Art @ 3:03 PM   0 Comments

Friday, May 16, 2008

Al Capone and Internet Safety

I'm sure you are all aware of the suicide of 13 year-old Megan Meier, a St. Louis teen who thought she was talking to a 16 year-old boy who was actually an adult neighbor.

Today, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles announced a four count indictment against, Lori Drew, the adult accused of being instrumental in Megan's death.

I think this is an extremely interesting case for many reasons. If you look closer at the indictment, you realize that there were no cyberbullying or harassment laws in place that could be used to get justice in this case. The US Attorney had to get creative and took a page from the Al Capone prosecution book. While there were laws against what Capone was doing, no one could get the goods on him for murder or other heinous crimes. However, they were able to put him away for tax evasion.

What has happened in the Megan Meier case is that the US Attorney has applied laws that are typically aimed at hackers and used the MySpace Terms of Service as a key portion of the issue. I am sure that this will catch the attention of the ACLU and EEF and you will be hearing charges that this prosecution is too broad and may be leading us down a slippery slope.

I seriously doubt that anyone will be prosecuted for minor violations of TOS as they might suggest. The US Attorney took great pains to emphasize that the decision here was made on the merits of this particular case. It was the death allegedly as a result of the actions of an adult online. That indeed is a serious case and anyone thinking that the US Attorney would be going after someone for anything minor is either delusional or paranoid.

Cudos to the US Attorney for seeking justice for Megan.

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posted by Art @ 7:59 AM   0 Comments

Friday, February 29, 2008

Harvard, tech firms seek to create safety Net

It's a big step in the right direction, but regardless of what this task force accomplishes, it will only be a part of the solution. Without education and increased parental involvement, children will remain at risk.

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posted by Art @ 9:11 AM   0 Comments